What Does Community Mean in a Hybrid World?

Community Blog
Written by Clare Ryan

DECEMBER 21, 2021

If last year was about adjusting and finding new ways to create a community virtually, this year was about how to connect people in a hybrid world. In 2021, we anticipated being together in person for everything, but had to continue to pivot and be partly virtual and partly in person. 

I’m excited that at Evanta, a Gartner Company, we offered almost 70 in-person events in 2021. Like everyone, we had to stay nimble, and a handful of our in-person gatherings were postponed until they could be held safely. But overall, we were thrilled at how the second half of 2021 turned out with regard to our community offerings  

Last year, I wrote about the concept of community and what community means when you can’t gather in person. I thought that the definition of community as a feeling of fellowship with others, who share common interests and goals, was the most fitting for 2020. This year felt similar – but when we were able to get together, I think it brought to light how much we all missed the in-person connections.

This year also seems like a reflection of the buzzword ‘hybrid’ - hybrid work models and workplaces and hybrid event models. We’ll be in the office some days, but still working virtually a lot of the time. We’ll offer in-person events wherever we possibly can, but if something unexpected happens, we’ll offer them virtually. What does this mean for the idea of community? 

It means first and foremost, we prefer to gather, share and learn with peers face to face based on the feedback we’ve received over the past several months. For instance, here are just a few comments from executives in Evanta communities who were back in person for the first time at the New York CIO Executive Summit and UK & Ireland Inner Circle Dinner:


I think there’s nothing like the energy of being together with people.”

– Eileen Mahoney
   Executive Vice President & CIO, PVH Brands

I know people here, so I’m bumping into people that I haven’t seen in two years. And it’s spectacular, it’s really great.”

– Cindy Taibi
SVP & CIO, The New York Times

The highlight for me today was just coming and meeting in person… I can’t overemphasize the importance of those interactions.”

– Bob McCowan
SVP & CIO, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals

Being back in person, you actually feel the energy in the room, and that energy can then translate into some really dynamic conversations.”

– Earl Newsome
CIO, Cummins

Great evening – excellent sharing of experiences. Wonderful to be back together in person again.”

- Angela Williams
Group Chief People Officer, Post Office Ltd

Fabulous event to connect with peers, debate current topics and to share learnings. The best event out there – fully recommend it.”

- Nadine Wyncoll
People Director, Domino’s Pizza Group

It was encouraging and helpful to hear from the real experiences – successes and struggles – of peers who are grappling with similar issues, and to have the time to get to know each other a bit more in a relaxed setting."

- Peter Eckley
Head of Data Strategy, Bank of England

The CIO Summit, with its focused, peer-led discussion, gave me a density and volume of actionable learnings that puts most other events to shame, in an impressively small and diary-friendly footprint.”

- Nick Gilbert
Chief Information & Digital Officer, University of Surrey


But when there is a curveball thrown our way, people don’t want to stop connecting entirely, either. That’s partly when the need to connect is the greatest. And it’s why virtual discussions will continue to have a place in our communities in 2022. 

As Bob McCowan of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals told us, “During Covid-19, the remote events kept us in contact…  It was as much about mental health, being able to get out and talk to people, as it was about learning what’s going on in the environment.”

As we reflect on this year, we are grateful to all of the executives in Evanta communities who trusted us to create safe, in-person gatherings – and to the many Evanta associates who made the in-person events possible. Our 2022 events will be posted shortly, and you can always check out our calendar to see the next opportunities for getting together with the peers in your community.